Cuba’s main airport taken over by France’s Bouygues and Aéroports de Paris

French companies Bouygues and Aéroports de Paris have been chosen by the government of Cuba for a concession to operate, modernise and expand Jose Martí International Airport in Havana.

The government did not give details of what construction projects were envisaged, but the airport is expecting a significant increase on the 4 million passengers it handles a year, around 1.75 million of whom are tourists, La Tribune reports.

The Tourism Ministry said the number of foreign visitors to Cuba rose 17% to 3.5 million in 2015, and by a further 12% in the first half of 2016, making it the country’s second largest industry, according to Reuters.

Cuba’s transport infrastructure and hospitality industry have been struggling to deal with the increased demand – and this is before the resumption of commercial flights to the US, which is scheduled for September.

As GCR reported, a large number of hotel and resort projects are now under way on the island, fuelled by an influx of investment from Chinese, American and British developers, as well as the Cuban government.

The Transport Ministry said the French companies were chosen on their track record. Relations between France and Cuba have been warming since President François Hollande visited Havana in May last year, a visit Cuba’s President Raúl Castro reciprocated in February 2016.

A branch of the French Development Agency will open in Cuba and will fund projects ranging from transport to renewable energy generation. France has also agreed to convert several hundred million dollars of debt into development projects for the island.

The upswing in Cuba’s fortunes follows the partial normalisation of relations with the US, announced in December 2014.

Image: Jose Martí’s International Terminal 3 was finished in 1998 (Wikimedia Commons)


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